Of course I shall not pretend to consider it any matter for wonder, that the extraordinary case of Mr. Valdemar has excited discussion. It would have been a miracle had it not -- especially under the circumstances. Through the desire of all parties concerned, to keep the affair from the public, at least for the present, or until we had farther opportunities for investigation -- through our endeavors to effect this -- a garbled or exaggerated account made its way into society, and became the source of many unpleasant misrepresentations; and, very naturally, of a great deal of disbelief.
It is now rendered necessary that I give the facts -- as far as I comprehend them myself. They are, succinctly, these:
My attention, for the last three years, had been repeatedly drawn to the subject of Mesmerism*; and, about nine months ago, it occurred to me, quite suddenly, that in the series of experiments made hitherto, there had been a very remarkable and most unaccountable omission: no person had as yet been mesmerized in articulo mortis*
In looking around me for some subject by whose means I might test these particulars, I was brought to think of my friend, Mr. Ernest Valdemar, the well-known compiler of the "Bibliotheca Forensic," or was particularly noticeable for the extreme sparseness of his person -- his lower limbs much resembling those of John Randolph; and, also, for the whiteness of his whiskers, in violent contrast to the blackness of his hair -- the latter, in consequence, being very generally mistaken for a wig. His temperament was markedly nervous, and rendered him a good subject for mesmeric experiment. For some months previous to my becoming acquainted with him, his physicians had declared him in a confirmed phthisis*. I spoke to him frankly upon the subject; and, to my surprise, his interest seemed vividly excited. His disease was of that character which would admit of exact calculation in respect to the epoch of its termination in death; and it was finally arranged between us that he would send for me about twenty-four hours before the period announced by his physicians as that of his decease.
My dear P…
You may as well come now. D…and F…are agreed that I cannot hold out beyond tomorrow midnight: and I think they have hit the time very nearly.
In that bed of death were as witnesses, a servant and a maid, a doctor friend of mine and Mr. L. the doctors D…and F… went to their houses but they promised me to come back the next day at 10pm. Mr. L… was so kind as to accede* to my desire that he would take notes of all that occurred; and it is from his memoranda that what I now have to relate is, for the most part, either condensed or copied verbatim. While he spoke thus, I commenced the passes which I had already found most effectual in subduing him. He was evidently influenced with the first lateral stroke of my hand across his forehead; but although I exerted all my powers, no farther perceptible effect was induced until some minutes after ten o'clock, when the doctor back his pulse was imperceptible and his breathing was stertorous*, and at intervals of half a minute. A natural although a very deep sigh escaped the bosom of the dying man, and the stertorous breathing ceased -- that is to say, its stertorousness was no longer apparent; the intervals were undiminished. The patient's extremities were of an icy coldness. At five minutes before eleven, I perceived unequivocal signs of the mesmeric influence. The glassy roll of the eye was changed for that expression of uneasy inward examination which is never seen except in cases of sleep-walking, and which it is quite impossible to mistake. With a few rapid lateral passes I made the lids quiver, as in incipient sleep, and with a few more I closed them altogether. I was not satisfied, however, with this, but continued the manipulations vigorously, and with the fullest exertion of the...